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I find the word "concern" attractive, because it is not as often seen as other words. Is it always safe to use it instead of "firm" or "business" -- even if the business is a small startup? For example, is the following correct?

DanSoft is a small one-man concern in Chicago. It is operated by one Daniel X., a long-time software enthusiast.

For similar reasons, I'm also attracted to the word "operate", and putting "one" in front of the name.

What do you think? Are these three words "concern", "operate", and "one" appropriate here? Would native English speakers find them inappropriate? Maybe a little archaic? Too formal? Or just fine?

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From an English point of view, it is valid. From a business point of view, it feels like you are being deliberately vague. If I was dealing with DanSoft, I'd like to know whether it is a registered company or just some guy in his bedroom. –  dave Oct 3 '11 at 0:29
    
Hehehe, good point. I'll keep it in mind. –  Enchilada Oct 3 '11 at 15:36
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your example is just fine. If, however, you’re asking whether it’s always appropriate to use ‘concern’, ‘operate’ and ‘one’ in the same way, that’s a big ask.

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+1. In the same way, 'a big ask' expresses exactly what you want here, but would often be inappropriate. –  TimLymington Oct 2 '11 at 19:57
    
Yes, all words can be inappropriate at one time or another. And contrariwise. –  Barrie England Oct 2 '11 at 20:14
    
Why wouldn't it always work? I mean, we're talking about synonyms here, aren't we? Can you name me an example in which these words would not work? –  Enchilada Oct 2 '11 at 21:24
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It isn’t a matter of meaning, but of appropriateness. We wouldn’t say, other than for special effect, that News International was a concern operated by one Rupert Murdoch. –  Barrie England Oct 3 '11 at 6:26
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Hehehe, nice example. Makes the point. –  Enchilada Oct 3 '11 at 15:35
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"Concern" might be a synonym in the sense of "mind your own business", but I've never seen it used to refer to an actual business in the way you're proposing.

While some people might be able to tease out your meaning, I think this use of the word is quirky enough to be widely misunderstood as a mistake.

"Operated by one" is just fine.

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'Concern' has been used to describe a business organization since 1681. –  Barrie England Oct 3 '11 at 6:29
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Your example, "DanSoft is a small one-man concern in Chicago. It is operated by one Daniel X., a long-time software enthusiast.", is grammatically sound, and I see no problem at all with use of "concern" in it. However, saying "operated" instead of "run" just adds extra syllables to the sentence, rather than making it better. "One" before "Daniel X.", while correct, is unnecessary and sounds pretentious.

I'm unable to find a proper explanation or reference, but my understanding of when it's appropriate to use a construction like "one Daniel X." is when one wants to emphasize the name rather than the person; for example, if the name is not known for certain, or if little or no further information is known about the person than his or her name.

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It can sometimes be used sarcastically of someone who actually is well known. –  Barrie England Oct 3 '11 at 19:53
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